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Search Engine Optimisation

SEO 101

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For some people, learning about SEO means refining skills they already have. If you are new to blogging or Web writing, or perhaps an old hand but one who never thought about SEO, here is some very basic essentials you should, and must, know. Here are all the questions about SEO you always wanted to know, but were too embarassed to ask your blogroll buddies.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search-engine optimization. Basically, optimizing your site means you make it friendly to search engines so they think it’s really cool and they tell others it’s really cool. They do that by showing it very high when someone searches for key phrases related to your site.

Why do I need SEO?

You don’t, if you don’t want people to read your stuff. If you do, you should really learn about it. If you never think about SEO, you might get lucky and happen to be optimized by chance. But if you have a blog on photography, you want people who search for key terms related to photography to find you.

Great. So how do I start this SEO thing?

There are plenty of companies who charge a lot for SEO services. For many people, there are just a few key steps to get your mind thinking a little more like a search engine. Before you write content, think about this:

  • Would I search for anything I just typed into the title of my page or blog post?
  • If I did type that in, would I stay if I read this post?

How do I write for SEO?

There are really a few simple steps to writing your first optimized page. This isn’t sophisticated, and doesn’t get into subtle nuances. But if you follow these basic tips, you will be taking the first steps to writing content for search engines as well as people.

  • Decide what you want to write about it. Now go do a search to research the article.
  • What did you just type in? That’s probably your keyword phrase right there.
  • Just to be sure, do a little keyword research. A good free resource for beginners is the Overture Keyword Selector Tool. Type that same search term in there, and see if anyone is searching for it. Try a couple variations as well. For example, you may find that more people search for photography tutorials than search for picture tips.
  • Now write. If it helps, write that keyword phrase you are targeting on a sticky note and post it on the top of your monitor.
  • If you have the ability to use meta tags with your page, reinforce that keyword phrase there in the title, description and keywords. Do not go too long, but keep focused to terms directly related to that phrase.
  • Use the keyword phrase in your title and in your first paragraph.
  • Repeat it as appropriate, and don’t just think about the words that appear. Take advantage of alt tags for images, and name pictures with those keyword terms. Use it in headers. If you plan to link to other sites, use the phrase when appropriate there.

There are other ways to optimize a page and a site, but this is a great foundation with some of the most basic SEO tactics. Work a little with these methods, and see if it impacts your traffic. From there, keep posted on SEO tips and news by reading sites like this one.

 

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I have experience writing for the Web since the early 1990s, and I have been writing for SEO for several years. I am the operator of Type-A Mom, Foodie Mama, and momShare, a social bookmarking site for moms. I write for several other sites including the France Travel site for About.com, the Family Travel site at Suite101.com, Transitions Abroad, and the Well Fed Network.

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Search Engine Optimisation

What is Thin Content and How to Fix It

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I don’t want to name any names, but I saw an awful website this morning. Granted, I was looking for examples of thin content because of this post and I figured I might be able to just wander around until I found something that could count towards the description. I didn’t expect to find something this relevant, much less to such a degree that I would leave the site cringing.

Because of tactics they had used and length of time the site had been around, they maintain a decent Google ranking in spite of having some of the thinnest content I have ever seen. But the lack of engagement on the articles, the amount of spam littered among the occasional real comment, the lack of social media shares… it all showed that in spite of being prolific in their posting habits, their content was doing nothing to help them.

Someone should let them know about the benefits of high quality content versus thin content. Though given the sheer number of ads on their domain, quality probably isn’t their first priority.

Thin Content Risks

Why is this such a bad thing if the traffic is high enough to bring them within the first page of Google results? It is the same reason that keyword stuffing is a bad idea. Sure, it will bring people to your site for a time. But eventually Google’s algorithm is going to catch on and while they claim they don’t penalize, we all know that isn’t true. If you try and skirt around the system you are going to get flagged.

Not only that, but it is damaging to a brand.

What is the use of being on Google’s first page if people realize the moment they click onto your site that you have nothing worth viewing? They will be gone within seconds and over time your rank will go down along with the lack of interest or brand trust.

The Legend of Fred

Now there is a more direct threat to your business. But then Google came out with updates, all named under one collective term “Fred” which focused on battling thin content:

Basically, if you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the Internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding, crap like that.

Fred caused quite a ruckus when it was first released in 2017. It came from the Black Hat sector, aimed specifically at spam links and suspected spam links.

Of course, we know from past statements and experiences that Google is also targeting backlinks and trying to discourage the practice which may be why so many sites that were well established and not at all spam saw a 90% decrease in traffic seemingly out of nowhere. It sparked panic across the web as site owners and brands scrambled to figure out what was happening and came back with rumors of “Fred”.

The good news is while a percentage of sites hit were valid ones that might not have deserved it, most did appear to be low rent content hosters using shady practices to boost traffic and so ad revenue. But that was little relief for those bigger sites who were impacted by the release of Fred.

Since then Google has got even smarter at identifying and fighting thin content, so in case you have some older lower-quality content on your blog, fixing it may cause your overall rankings increase.

How to Fix Thin Content on Your Blog

Step 1: Identify and Enhance Articles That Bring Traffic

  • Go to Google Analytics Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages
  • Enable it to show 5000 rows (this is the maximum)
  • Export the whole report and check if any of those articles can be called “thin”, generally:
    • Number of words is fewer than 500
    • There are no structure (subheadings, images, etc.)
    • There’s no “substance”, i.e. some unique tip, facts, etc. that a reader can take home.

Landing pages

Once you find a thin article, go ahead and enhance it by implementing a new keyword strategy.

TextOptimizer is a great tool for that: It will run your target query in Google, extract search snippets and then apply semantic analysis to identify related concepts and entities to implement in your content to expand it.

TextOptimizer

TextOptimizer will also generate popular questions on your topic for you to answer in your content and make it better:

TextOptimizer Questions

While editing your old content, think if there are any content re-purposing opportunities, like creating a whitepaper or a blog series. Use the checklist to ensure higher quality for each of your content projects.

Step 2: Identify and Get Rid of Articles That Bring 0 Clicks

Now, go ahead and check all the articles that didn’t get into your above list. You may double-check again to make sure any of them are not really driving any clicks. Once you are sure, go ahead and:

  • Use 301 redirect to redirect any of those articles to their updated or closely related versions
  • If there’s no related content to redirect to, simply delete old thin articles
  • Here are great plugins that will help you with both the steps above

For more information on this tactic, check out this case study on how this process increased one blog’s traffic by ~1000%

Growth

Have you been thinking about fixing low-quality thin content? Please share your tips!

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Search Engine Optimisation

5 Ways Blog Optimization Tips for Google Ranking Success in 2019

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On-page SEO for your blog articles should be a top priority. You have most likely read plenty of articles on the subject. If you are a new blogger, you probably have a domain, WordPress hosting service, a long list of potential topics and categories to write about, but what about blog optimization? This is a common misstep for new bloggers.

If you are still wondering what the true anatomy of an optimized blog is, we are here to help. Meta-tags, keywords, image Alt Text, and the list goes on. What is the real goal of on-page SEO? Better Google rankings! And better Google rankings means more eyes on your content, since you will be ranking high on Google SERPs.

Having exceptional on-page SEO is vital to the growth and success of your business. This means bending to the hand of the almighty Google. Why? Google handles two trillion searches per year.

Let’s take a deeper look at five ways to optimize your blog for Google ranking success in 2019!

  1. Start with Optimizing Keywords

Whether you write for your own blog, or have an editor, all your content should revolve around unique keywords. Normally, bloggers will be given a keyword to include in their highly authoritative, actionable content in various places. You can see a perfect example here, as the article is written in a way to not only focuses on the keywords and search phrases in the title, but the content within the article breaks down even further into each of these data points and subtitles as well.

Having that keyword allows you to begin formatting your title, subheadings and text. But keyword development doesn’t necessarily end there.

You should also identify two to three supporting keywords that will be used throughout the post, in subheadings, and even in your title. You can use tools like Infinite Suggest to maximize keyword research. You can also find other supporting keyword ideas using Moz, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush.

  1. Do Your Due Diligence During Keyword Research

There is a bit more that goes into choosing two or three supporting keywords. You don’t want to blindly pick one. The goal is to find keywords with a fair amount of search volume, low difficulty, and high opportunity.

From the keyword tool, make a list of supporting keywords, let’s say you choose “on page SEO tactics” as a supporting keyword, but the monthly search volume seems low. What to do? Check another platform like MOZ or SEMrush to get a second keyword opinion. Remember, you want to choose keywords that your audience is actually searching for.

  1. Make a List of LSI Keywords

You may be asking yourself, “What are LSI keywords?” LSI keywords, better known as “long-tail” keywords, are actually becoming more important for search engines like Google. They may also help you avoid Problematic Google penalties. How do you find LSI keywords? It’s actually simpler than you may think.

Open up Google and search for your main keyword, and then scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a nice variety of LSI keywords waiting for you. After, check the long-tail keywords you want to use in a keyword tool. It is best practice to use two or three LSI Keywords in a blog article for max value.

  1. Always Put Keywords in Your Blog SEO Titles

Identifying and qualifying your keywords is quite often the most difficult part of on-page SEO for blog posts. However, once you have them, things begin to fall into place for SERP results you will be happy with. How do you use them though?

Placing keywords in your SEO title is also important. It essentially tells Google that you want to rank for this or that. If “Blogger Tips” is your keyword, you’ll want to include it in the title as close to the beginning of the title as possible.

It is important to note that you want your title to still sound natural, so don’t force it. Be natural, but always think Google page one. The closer your keyword is to the front, the more weight it carries with search engines.

  1. Put Your Keywords in Headings Correctly

This is a common mistake many bloggers make. Sure, crafting delightful content that is worthy of the New Yorker is dreamy. However, Google ranking algorithms don’t only look at content. You essentially want to tell search engines, and your audience, where the shifts in the story are, and what each section is about.

Using appropriate header tags can make this happen. Most content management systems will automatically place an h1 tag for your post’s SEO title. WordPress does this nicely! If you are writing for a client, you may only be formatting your blog article for on-page SEO via Google Docs or Word. In this is the case, you want to ensure each heading is tagged correctly, like:

  • h1 tag for SEO titles
  • h2 tag for subheadings
  • h3 tags for supporting subheadings

In Conclusion . . .

There are certainly a ton of blog optimization tips out there for you to dig up and use for maximum rankings on Google. However, the above five tips are among the most important. From keywords to placing keywords strategically, grow your blog by getting the most out of each post. Do you have a blogging SEO tip? We want to hear from you.

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Search Engine Optimisation

How to Optimize Your Blog for Voice Search

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The new year has come and we are just twelve months away from the year 2020. Why is that important? Because by 2020, nearly all searches are predicted to be voice, rather than text searches.

In fact, Gartner found that 30% of those searches are going to be done entirely screen-less. Here are a few more numbers in case you are not convinced:

  • 13% of households used voice search in 2017 and this number is expected to rise to around 55% by 2022. [Source]. Smart speakers have created an industry of their own and are easily integrated into American household. As the software becomes more streamlined and more applications are introduced, this could cause their adoption to grow even more.
  • 72% of current voice search users claim to use it as part of their daily routine. (source: Google). Looks like searching voice easily becomes a habit! It’s definitely here to stay!

News organizations, radio stations, and websites have begun intensively marketing toward owners of smart speakers. Daily news, music, finances, your calendar and the like can now be read to you as you herd your kids to the car and off to school or before heading in to work.

In other words, voice search queries are going to be taking over the search world.

While voice-activated technology started making its way into our lives quite some time ago, the recent smart assistant technology boom caused the actual voice search revolution. Major brands are quickly investing in voice search optimization.

Is your website ready?

Adapting to the Algorithm

To see how important voice search is going to be we have to look at how Google in its current incarnation really works. When I first started in the SEO world, it was all about simple search keywords. But the exploitation of keyword stuffing pushed Google to further the benchmark and make things more complex.

Now when we look at keyword analysis and optimization, it is a completely different process than what it used to be. Not only have keywords become more varied, the way that Google sifts through the noise in order to provide answers for their users is amazing.

That is what has kept Google on top for so long; competitors like Bing just haven’t been able to develop a framework that is as effective and dominating.

Voice search is underlining this fact in ways that weren’t as clear before. When we type a search phrase we are more careful. We think through what we are going to say, we get phrase suggestions that might help us narrow down or change our language and we get a page of results that lets us refocus if needed.

Spoken words are more spontaneous and harder to predict. It’s not always possible to understand what the searcher really needs. Somehow, Google’s algorithm still works with this format, as long as the content providers are properly optimizing on their side of meet the demand.

So, how do we do it?

Think of Search Queries as Speech

A popular meme lately has been, “This is so sad. Alexa, play Despacito“. While tongue in cheek, it shows the way that speech is taking a handle in search and how we might use it properly.

Imagine you are sitting around talking to your friends. You decide to ask them a question, like, “What movies are showing this weekend?” It is a natural way to speak for you. But if you were to type in search terms, it would be something more like, “Showtimes Century 16”.

Searching by voice presents a new challenge to search engine optimization professionals: Optimizing for all possible ways a user can speak your query.

Optimizing for related terms, synonyms and neighboring concepts is more important than ever. TextOptimizer helps you do just that by running your query in Google and using semantic analysis to extract related topics and neighboring context to optimize your page for:

TextOptimizer

[TextOptimizer extracts related topics for your important keywords helping you optimize for a wide variety of queries]

Get Featured!

The general concept here hasn’t changed, as you still want your page to appear on top of Google’s search result pages: It’s a fact that Google’s users seldom ever scroll past the first page.

Voice search is going to gravitate towards the simplest, top results for the user.

Once upon a time, that meant getting on the front page. Now it means making sure your content is set for featured snippets so you can go above the actual page results and gain priority in Google’s ranking.

Featured snippets are selected search results that appear on top of organic search results in Google and Bing. Featured snippets are what gets read to a user in response to a search query.

Featured Snippets

Articles, tables, images, videos, bullet lists… there are plenty of forms of content that appear in featured snippets.

To better target featured snippet opportunities, use Ahrefs: It allows you to filter search queries to those triggering featured snippets and lets you preview actual search results:

Ahrefs featured

While Schema.org officially doesn’t help you get featured, a lot of SEOs have found that playing around with structured markup actually makes a difference. In any case, that won’t hurt, especially given it’s quite easy to implement using a variety of WordPress plugins.

/HowTo schema is predicted to be used by Google soon (since it’s already being implemented in some of the search experiments), so I’d start there. To show you the markup in action, try running this page through Google’s structured data testing tool:

Structured data

Do you have a strategy to add? Let us know in the comments!

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